Seeing the Sacred
I know that social media isn’t very good for me, nor is obsessing over the news. And yet, I find myself not being able to look away. While I do think it is important to be informed, what am I really gaining from being so immersed in it? I can’t help but think from an energetic perspective that while my mind thinks I can stay above the fray – where is my energy? If I’m spending even a portion of my day swearing at my computer because of all the craziness, clearly I’m deeply entrenched in it all. I need to remember to reboot my system and I decided that my antidote to all this mayhem is to stop myself and take a moment to see the sacred – every day and as needed.
What is the Sacred?
Now for me, the sacred means connecting with the essence of something. It means stripping away all of the pretense and narrative and being with the beauty and purity of the moment. It can be a single moment or a collection of them but its really about recognizing the divinity in something. Sometimes that means stripping away a lot of layers but most of the time it is just witnessing what’s right there in front of me.
So while it can definitely be during times of prayer or meditation, for me finding the sacred does not have to happen at a church or at my altar. I find the most sacred moments are those that just sneak up on me. Like when I’m reading with my son and he just snuggles in a little closer. Or the brief moments when he holds my hand while we are walking, something he rarely does anymore now that he’s approaching eleven. I often find it in nature too, but again it doesn’t have to be on a hike. There is this green ivy that crawls along my balcony wall and often birds will come and play in it singing their songs. To me that is sacred. It’s a beautiful and pure moment stripped down to its essence.
Wherever you are be all there.
~ Jim Elliot
I think we miss a lot of these moments in our lives. After all, I can go on a hike surrounded by beauty and be thinking the whole time about what groceries I need to get for dinner that night. Then, there can be times when I’m walking down the sidewalk and I fall in love with a single flower that grows through a crack in the asphalt. That’s what seeing the sacred is all about, finding the beauty between the cracks. Being able to be awed by that one perfect moment.
See the Awe-some
I’ve thought a lot about what makes a moment sacred and I’ve boiled it down to what I call the three As. Attention, appreciation, and awe. If I’m not paying attention, I miss the sacred. It might just be a little blip on the divine radar and if I’m focused on all the cracks, I might miss the flower. And let’s face it, sometimes those cracks deserve our attention too. The next element is appreciation. I have this silly thing that I do when I see the birds enjoying my balcony. I say out loud, “Thank you for sharing your space with me”. My loudness depends on who’s listening, I may be thankful, but I acknowledge I also sound a little crazy. This is my way of giving a tip of my hat to the moment and to the creature that is sharing it with me. The last thing is acknowledging the awe that is born out of the other two. Gratitude and mindfulness are the parents of awe.
There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt is awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
~ Albert Einstein
I describe this feeling as my heart opening and I can feel it reaching out to envelop the sacred. It is almost like it is creating the container to hold the moment but in doing so it is also transformed by it. It is the experience of the divinity in me melding with the divinity all around me. Sometimes it reaches out far enough that it takes my breath away a little. I think the more sacred we can find in the regular moments is how we stay sane in all of this. Awe and frustration can’t occupy the same space.
So I encourage you to find your sacred too. Maybe it’s in your favorite piece of poetry or an opera. Or the color of the fall leaves or the song of the little bird that lands on your balcony. As I write this I can hear the noon bells from the church below. There is a sacredness in their sound too. It’s all around us if we are looking.